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Dear Readers: October is National Window Covering Safety Month. The Window Covering Safety Council ( has hints for making your home safer when it comes to window treatments:

  • Keep all cribs, beds and furniture away from windows.
  • Use only cordless window coverings, or those with inaccessible cords.
  • If your window treatments do have cords, make sure they are out of sight and out of reach.

If you're renting a home or apartment or your home is older, you may have older-style cords on your window treatments, which can be a danger if you have grandkids who visit.

Safety is always the most important factor. Window cords can pose a strangulation hazard to young children. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (, corded window coverings are among the top hidden hazards in American homes.

Check these websites for more information. -- Heloise

You are here

Dear Readers: Be careful about "tagging" yourself or "checking in" to a business on social media. This tells people exactly where you are, and that you are not at home.

If you want to mention a business that you like or tell everyone about a great restaurant, do it after you are back home. -- Heloise

Window washer

Dear Heloise: One side of my house is all sliding glass doors and tall windows. Cleaning them was impossible, not to mention the streaks!

I decided to use microfiber cloths -- one with plain, very hot water to wash, and one to dry! It worked! I washed 1/4 of the window at a time. No worries about streaks -- it just doesn't happen! -- Sylvia R., Mount Solon, Virginia

Doll dresses

Dear Heloise: My daughter went through a divorce. So, what to do with the wedding dress she didn't want anymore?

I cut as much fabric as I could from the dress and had a seamstress make three doll dresses from the material! -- Mickee R., Spearfish, South Dakota

Sticky subject

Dear Heloise: I use hand sanitizer to clean fingerprints and smudges off my touch-screen devices. -- Lisa F., Erie, Pennsylvania

Lisa, use only a tiny amount, and don't apply directly to the screen. You don't want the liquid to seep under the screen. -- Heloise

More storage

Dear Heloise: I'm always looking for extra storage space, even after a decluttering. Here are two ideas I've come up with:

A small net hammock tacked in a corner of my son's room is a great place to stow lightweight stuffed animals.

Here in Texas, we never use the fireplace. It's a good place to tuck a floral arrangement or a collection of books. -- Ann Marie S., via email 

Kitchen clutter

Dear Readers: Does your silverware tray slide around in the drawer? Take paper towel cores and slip them behind the tray. This should keep the tray snug in the drawer. -- Heloise

Save it for later

Dear Heloise: I read your column (regularly) and I want to keep some of your hints to reference later.

To hold your column until I'm ready to "laminate" (with tape) the front side, I lay the back side of the newspaper column against the sticky side of leakproof sealing wrap. Then I cover the front side of the article with the clear packaging tape.

Now I can cut it out and tape it to the fridge, microwave, a mirror, a notebook or wherever I want, and it is protected from splashes. -- Jackie in Santa Ana

Hint from him

Dear Heloise: There's no need to slice yourself instead of your bagel. Lay the bagel flat, cut first downward so that you have two semicircles. Then stand each half-bagel on its flat cut and slice downward again.

Four perfect quarter-bagels that still fit in the toaster just fine. If you then insist on having circles again, just spackle the pieces together with a little extra cream cheese! -- Neil S., Falls Church, Virginia

Trunk cleanup

Dear Readers: Take an hour to clean out the trunk of your car. Sort and donate things you don't use, and find a place in the house for things you do use. Carrying less cargo may improve your gas mileage!

Next, sprinkle some baking soda in the trunk to deodorize. Let it sit for an hour or overnight, and then vacuum thoroughly.

The baking soda will absorb any bad odors, and is a multiuse workhorse around the house, outside and in your auto. It is cheap and safe. If you would like a collection of my favorite money-saving baking soda hints, visit to order, or send a large, stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio TX 78279-5001. To freshen a drain, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda mixed with 1/4 cup of salt into the drain, and then add 1/2 cup of vinegar. The mixture will bubble! Let it sit for 30 minutes, and flush with lots of water. -- Heloise

Say 'thanks'

Dear Heloise: My husband and I travel a lot, and we really enjoy different cultures. In fact, we try to learn some of the language before we visit a place, and some of the local customs. So often, what is OK in America may be offensive in a foreign place, such as certain gestures. But we make a point of learning to say "thank you" and "please" in the language of the country. We also look for what is unique to that country, which is the point of traveling to different places. -- Jean K., Joplin, Missouri

Jean, these are very good ideas. It's the differences and novelty of a place that make it exciting and educational. Happy trails! -- Heloise

Avoid the tangle

Dear Heloise: I have discovered that stringing an open chain of a necklace through a straw and then hooking the necklace together is a foolproof way to arrive with an untangled necklace when traveling. This keeps those delicate chains from becoming knotted and eventually ruined. -- Susan M., Monroe, Louisiana

Word of caution

Dear Heloise: We just returned from our honeymoon, and while we were planning our trip, the travel agent gave us some very valuable hints to help keep us safe:

  • Take mostly credit cards on a trip. You'll need some cash, of course, but never carry a lot. You'll have very little, if any, liability if a thief uses a stolen credit card.
  • Never let a cabdriver take you to a hotel that he claims is a better deal than the one where you have booked a room. Research hotels carefully, and stick to that plan!
  • Never wire money to your hotel when making reservations. If they won't take a credit card, that's a red flag, because any reputable hotel will take a known credit card. It's almost impossible to recover wired money. -- Carrie and Mike H., Jacksonville, Florida

Inside out

Dear Heloise: I have found a way to recycle large mailing envelopes, the white padded ones. Turn inside out, then it's all white and can be taped shut with packing tape. -- Karen G., Morganton, North Carolina

Stylus tip

Dear Heloise: I use a stylus (soft rubber tip) from the discount store to punch numbers into the ATM. This is easier due to my long fingernails.

I also use it at the debit machine at stores and restaurants. -- Shirley B., Simi Valley

Mom box

Dear Heloise: Several times a year, I fly to visit my son. I keep a plastic shoebox in his guest closet where I store all my toiletries, such as toothpaste and hair products, contact-lens solution and meds.

I also have a larger tote for hiking shoes, sweatshirts, bathing suits, etc. It's much easier to get through airport security knowing that all these items are already at their destination. I can travel more easily, with just one carry-on. -- Carol K., Ligonier, Indiana

Skin deep

Dear Heloise: Makeup and skin care are getting pretty advanced these days. Are skin treatments like lotions and serums only skin deep? What is the difference between a cosmetic and a drug? -- Nancy D. in Pennsylvania

Nancy, there are regulations regarding this. According to the Food and Drug Administration (, the definitions of "cosmetic" and "drug" depend on how the product is designed to be used.

A cosmetic is a device for "cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering the appearance" of the human body.

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If a product states that it is to be used in the "diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease," it's a drug.

By the way, "cosmeceutical" (a mix of the words "cosmetic" and "pharmaceutical") is not a legally recognized term. -- Heloise

Towel trouble

Dear Heloise: I hate the "new" washing machines. I like water to fill the tub. My towels have an odor like mildew.

I hope you can help me. I'm glad you picked up where your mom left off. -- Dana W., Memphis, Tennessee

Hi, Dana. Yes, I can help you. Here are some hints:

  • Don't overload the washer.
  • Layer towels evenly in the washer.
  • Fabric softener is not good for towels -- it can impede absorption.
  • Using the hottest washer setting, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of baking soda with a small amount of detergent in the washer. Launder as usual, and dry. This should help eliminate the sour smell.

Did you know that baking soda is a workhorse around the house? It's great for cooking, cleaning and beauty -- a multitude of uses for only pennies per use!

I've compiled my favorite baking soda hints and recipes in a handy pamphlet -- would you like to receive one? It's easy! Visit and click on the upper right corner of the home page to order, or send a long, stamped, self-addressed envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio TX 78279-5001. Make a paste of baking soda, warm water and soap to scrub hands with. -- Heloise

Exchange club

Dear Heloise: I think you might like this and pass it on. I live in a retirement community. Every other year, our card club has a home decor exchange and luncheon.

The ladies bring their items to my house, and I stage them, then we shop. The items left over, we donate. The following year we do fashion items, which includes clothing, shoes, jewelry and more.

What a great way to reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle! -- Georgia C., via fax

Auto incorrect?

Dear Heloise: I'm so accustomed to my cellphone offering "autocorrect" that I wish my PC would do the same! True, I have spellcheck, but that autocorrect is faster! -- Jimmy Y. in St. Louis

Belt bags

Dear Heloise: I keep an old leather belt in the trunk to loop through handles of shopping bags to carry more of them more easily! -- Jenna B. in Arizona

Removing fingerprints

Dear Heloise: I use the last slice of white bread on my walls. I mash it into a ball, then sort of mush it into a smudge or fingerprint to remove it. -- Dannie T., Dayton, Ohio

Head to the mall?

Dear Heloise: I'm wondering how your readers feel about shopping malls? When I was a kid, I loved spending time at the mall with my friends; some malls had carousels, ice-skating rinks and movie theaters, and they all had wonderful food courts with delicious choices of eats. But now so many malls are going out of business.

In San Antonio, we still have malls that are doing well, but off-price stores and shopping online are gaining in popularity.

Will your readers always go to the mall? Do you like the energy there? The service? The people? It was convenient to have all the big stores under one roof, and years ago, I used to walk in the mall for exercise. That was fun.

The salespeople in the kiosks outside of the stores can be pretty pushy, but I've learned to just say, "No, thank you."

Is the shopping mall becoming a thing of the past? Hopefully not! -- Jana B., Helotes, Texas

Readers, what do you say about the shopping mall? I've done many book signings in many malls over the years -- a great place to come together! -- Heloise

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio TX 78279-5000; fax: 1-210-HELOISE; email: